Philosophy Article Review Paper on Epistemological beliefs

Epistemological beliefs

Epistemological beliefs are an area of research that has been used to ascertain the level of thought for individuals in analyzing various factors, situations, issues, and activities. According to the existing research, there is minimal reference and research of epistemological beliefs on how individuals conduct their day-to-day lives. One of the primary fields of thought on epistemological beliefs has been the research by Perry in the 1960s, in which he examined the relation between epistemology and students’ ability to comprehend knowledge related to their academic courses (Schommer-aikins 6). According to his research, he discovered that student’s epistemological beliefs are most notable among college level and higher degrees of education. During this period, the students develop a higher order level of thinking that shifts from an absolutist approach to a commitment position, where knowledge is considered as a product of their empirical investigation and reason.

This shift in thought process serves as the basis for investigation and research into epistemological beliefs in an adult population that is affected by real life situations. Therefore, the focus of this research was the comprehension of the process and factors determining one’s ability for higher order thinking and its effects on their decision making process. This research was based on the findings of Kuhn and Schommer who offered different schools of thoughts that had similar findings, but dissimilar research methodologies.

Philosophical Assumptions for Research and Methodology

The research by Kuhn was based on inherent theories and comprehension, which could be used to determine a person’s argumentative reasoning and his inherent capacity for higher order thinking. The study was conducted using social issues affecting people, and their argumentative reasoning used to determine their level of higher order thinking (Schommer-aikins 7). Additionally, the participant’s protocols were not considered in the choice of the sample group. The study revealed that half of the participants were absolutists with a limited argumentative reasoning. However, this research made several assumptions that could have affected the quality of the research data’s accuracy. It was inconsiderate of such important factors as demographics that are vital in determining one’s social beliefs, thoughts, and attributes.

Demographics such as income levels, age, gender, race, employment status, among others are crucial parameters in the correlation of research into epistemological beliefs using social attributes. Therefore, the generated results are inconsiderate of such pertinent factors and can thus be deemed as been prone to errors, though its magnitude cannot be adequately ascertained. Another assumption made by Kuhn was the belief that primarily using social issues that affect the society would relate to most respondents and generate results (Kuhn 206). However, for an effective research, Kuhn should have widened the scope of his questionnaire to include not only social issues, but also others like economics, technology, culture, or educational. A blend of such issues would have painted a more precise picture of the participant’s argumentative reasoning (Kuhn 168).

Schommer on the other hand believed that epistemological beliefs were considered as a system of independent belief (Schommer-aikins 8). Her study was based on four core beliefs; structure and stability of knowledge, and the control and speed of learning. The research focused on six thinking dispositions; taking multiple perspectives; acknowledging the complexity of issues; engaging in flexible thinking; acknowledging the evolving nature of knowledge; questioning omniscient authority; and making decisions in a thoughtful and reflective manner (Schommer-aikins 9). Of the six thinking dispositions, there was no correlation between Epistemological beliefs and questioning omniscient authority and time consuming reflective thinking. However, all the other dispositions generated results that showed varying degrees of thought that were representative of Epistemological beliefs.

One of the main assumptions for this research was that the Epistemological questionnaire was structured to cater to the individual distinctiveness or default beliefs. This analogy was effective since it ensures that one reasoning was measured using a form of scale that did not prejudice their thoughts, but rather assessed them. Therefore, this was instrumental in ensuring that the data generated was accurate and credible and encompassed a wide ranging school of thought that was not merely determined by one’s education, but rather by their ability to think and comprehend information (Irving, William, and Gloria 412).

The research also included 120 women and 54 men, which can be thought to have tipped the gender balance. However, in the results outcome, the research assumed that gender was not a big determiner of the results and its findings. However, this analogy can be contested since the Epistemological questionnaire contained one of the social issues as abortion. Women are generally perceived to hold the most thoughtful and articulate on abortion since it directly affects their lives. Therefore, the answers issued by this gender regarding abortion can be thought to have been biased since undue socio-cultural influence may have been at play. This assumption is considered as inconsequential since in spite of the gender imbalance in the participants, the comparison of the data generated by the two social since showed similar findings.

The researches by Kuhn and Schomer seem to suggest that knowledge is best determined by determining one’s capacity to reflect on their thoughts and ideas. This assumption is true since it dwells on the fact that knowledge is certain, though flexible. It is considered as being dynamic based on one’s capacity to understand its meaning and draw substantive thoughts and ideas for the application of this knowledge. This application of knowledge requires one to have a heightened ability to reflect on different pieces and bits of knowledge and raw correlations between them, rather than viewing them as isolated pieces of data. This form is considered by schommer and Kuhn as perspective thinking.

The assumption that one’s ability to perform these tasks can be measured and scales given to ascertain one’s school of thought and its certainty or tentativeness was the basis for both researches. This analogy is certain since it shows one’s abilities to comprehend information I different manners, and their ability to employ different thoughts adequately. According to schommer, this analogy is explained using the control of learning and the speed of learning. The speed of learning determines one’s capacity to analyze data and information quickly and form conclusive ideas and thoughts that can be useful in expanding their scope of knowledge. This speed of analysis of data and information differs in different people depending on various other factors such as IQ and environment.

This analogy then develops to the second aspect of Epistemological beliefs, which is control of learning. This involves one’s capacity to analyze data and determine which is pertinent to their schools of thought and which lacks merit. This ability is vital for comprehension of different social, cultural, technological, and economical issues that affect the society (Irving, William, and Gloria 358). The research assumption by schommer was that the control of learning would act as a means to ensure that participant’s protocols are neglected to enhance their speed of comprehension of the questionnaire. The control of learning was also assumed as being one of the factors that would determine the quality of data generated.

In the research methodologies, the researchers were successful in ensuring that the data on the questionnaire was representative of the participant’s daily lives. This assumption ensured complete participation of the participant. However, one key aspect of the research by Schommer was that the questionnaire was structured in a manner that ensured the contentious issues were listed in the order of least controversial at the beginning of the questionnaire. The most controversial issues were then listed at the tail end of the questionnaire. This ensured that the participants were able to participate in the questions completely and hence answer most of it.    

Schommer’s Epistemological dimension of structure was also represented within the research. According to this dimension, it was assumed that asking specific questions that had specific answers would elicit a designed and articulated response that could be used to analyze the respondents answer. Additionally, to understand their argumentative reasoning, the questions required one to give an explanation to their answer, which analyzed their thinking perspective, flexibility, and reflection. This is important in the determination of the respondents degree of high order thinking since the explanation would show the researchers if the respondents based their answer on certain knowledge or on reflective and empirical thinking. Therefore, the two researchers were able to formulate a concrete methodology and study of epistemological beliefs, and how they can be used to reflect our thought process and knowledge structures.

Work Cited

Irving, B. Weiner, William, M. Reynolds, and Gloria, E. Miller. Handbook of Psychology, Educational Psychology. John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.

Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Schommer-aikins, Marlene and Rosetta, Hutter. Epistemological Beliefs and Thinking About Everyday Controversial Issues. The Journal of Psychology, 2002, 136(1), 5–20.